When Mike and I became serious about saving money, one of the first things I turned to was coupons. I had used coupons before, but didn’t really know the ins and outs of how to get the best deal.
One of the first things I had to do was become familiar with the Lingo of coupons. You can see our extensive list here at Learning the Lingo.
Building Your Coupon Stash
I had a hard time figuring out how people were getting so many of the free products when there was only 1 coupon in the paper (yeah, I was a little slow…lol). There are many ways to help build your coupon stash – which, by the way is essential to shaving money from the monthly budget.
1) You can order more than 1 Sunday paper. Or, if you are like me and have family close by who don’t use theirs, you can ask them to save them for you.
2) Print coupons online. I love printing coupons. To me, it’s the sound of money printing! There are tons of resources for online printable coupons. Some of the biggest are Coupons.com, Cool Savings, Red Plum and Smart Source. You can also find tons of coupons daily on our Printable Coupon Round-ups as well in our Coupon Database.
3) Look for store coupon booklets. Walgreens keeps theirs (usually) up near the front of the store where the fliers are located. My Publix has them near the Pharmacy. No matter where they are kept, find them!! These can be a gold mine. A store coupon is a coupon produced by the store and usually can be paired with a manufacturer’s coupon – giving you greater savings. This is called stacking.
Organization of Coupons
Now, if my Mom reads this she will probably start laughing out loud. You see, I am not the best organizer (she is…lol). I didn’t get the gene – my brother did. Needless to say, this was tough for me in the beginning.
First, I tried the insert method. I would keep all the inserts and label them with the date on the front. Then, when it was time to shop, I would know exactly where to find the coupons I needed. Unfortunately for me, I was not organized enough to know what coupons I wanted for my shopping trip and ended up at the store without ones I needed.
I decided I needed to be able to have all my coupons with me at all times. So I took a small photo album (4×6) that had horizontal slots. I made my own labels and filed my coupons accordingly. This worked well for me, but because the pages were meant to be handled so much, it began to tear.
I currently use the CouponClutch and I really love it. It has the size pages that I like and comes with great dividers (for the organizationally impaired like me). There are directions on how to even make your own on their website!
I only clip/print the coupons that I now I will use. In the beginning, I printed out everything – ended up just wasting my ink and paper. By only clipping the coupons you use, you won’t end up buying something just because you had a coupon.
The key is to find out what works for you. You may have to go through a couple different methods (or even make up your own) before finding one that is just for you.
Next time we will see how to use these coupons to score products for Free in Part 3: How to Live on Less ~ Free Items and Money Makers.